Beastars Vol. 4 dropped in January 2020 and with the upcoming release of the anime to Netflix in North America, it’s time to jump back in and see what’s happening.
“As gray wolf Legoshi continues to grapple with his feelings for dwarf rabbit Haru, he discovers another member of the Drama Club is friendly with her too. But just how friendly…? Meanwhile, someone is developing feelings for Legoshi. And Bengal tiger Bill is threatening to reveal some disturbing truths about someone’s past…”
If the third volume of Beastars is where the series started opening up and expanding its world, the fourth volume pulls things back to a more intimate level. The focus is back squarely on Legoshi, Haru, Louis, and even Juno as the Meteor Festival slowly closes in. Further depth is given to Louis and Juno as we see what makes them tick, while Legoshi’s feelings for Haru just get further complicated and real. And that’s the real heart and meat of the book: the characterization and everyone’s continual development.
With Haru, it is about her slowly developing her friendship with Legoshi and her continual self-worth issues. She is warming up to the big wolf, but still finds it hard to be around him and finds his wishy-washy nature to be frustrating. She also seems more prospective of his feelings towards her and while she can sort of respect them, she is similar to Louis and the panda from last volume in that you cannot fight your own inner instincts. Going down this road will only hurt you. Haru is interesting, but she definitely needs more solo focus since most of this development is only pushed forward or explored in how it ties to her relationship with other men.
Juno finally gets more focus in this book. Introduced as a first-year who Legoshi saves, the book explores more of her personality. While she is certainly sweet, pleasant, and kind towards others, a lot of it may be just an act she is putting on. She makes it fully clear that she wants to be a Beastar, someone who makes the world truly shine for carnivores like herself. She challenges Louis straight up, showing that she is a lot stronger than she appears, and is very ambitious, even declaring she’ll make Legoshi her own in her rise. It’ll definitely be interesting to see how she intends to further her own goals as time goes on.
Legoshi continues being the one to grow and develop the most out of the whole cast, hitting real developments in understanding love and his own wants. Despite trying to follow the panda’s advice of ignoring Haru, he ends up fully admitting to himself that he likes her and tries to comprehend what this means to him. How does he view his developing friendship with her? How does he feel about Louis now that he sees that she is into him? This experience is all new to him, and it constantly evolves and changes throughout the volume. It goes from confusion, to sincerity, jealousy, and acceptance. There’s so much inner conflict that you do wonder how things will ultimately end.
But Louis is probably one of the biggest standouts for the volume, letting us dive right into his past and seeing how it informs his actions and views. The previous volumes hinted at a troubled background, but here is where it is all laid out. Louis was rescued from the Black Market as a child, where he was raised to be just food for carnivores. He was incredibly defensive of the other kids in his same boat and would rather have committed suicide than being served up as live dinner. His ‘father’ merely rescued/bought him to serve his own goals of making him into a Beastar, someone who could lead the future for all animals. In turn, Louis’ own issues and this constant need to raise in status has morphed him into the figure he is now, one constantly needing to prove he is the best while having a dislike for carnivores. It’s made him unhinged in some regard, while also opening some other unfavorable aspects, like sexism and pushing for only pure-breed relationships. Whether he can fully overcome this is unknown for now.
The artwork continues to improve — the difference between the first and fourth volume is incredible. The art is much cleaner with more consistent depictions of characters with less sketchy linework. Layouts are easier to follow and can really emphasize the passion, energy, and tension with how moments are presented in the panels. The humor and facial expressions are just getting better, like the bit when Jack confronts Legoshi about a certain magazine he found or when Leogshi helps Juno to dance better. It is just a nice looking manga that feels so distinct from other series out there, even ignoring the fact that all the characters are animals.
Beastars Vol. 4 steps back a little with the plot to focus more on developing its characters and their relationships with one another. While some are better than others, it is engaging and curious to see how the fuzzy cast continues growing and grappling with their own feelings as they evolve. For those looking for more character-focused material, Beastars continues to offer a good experience, even if it does seem questionable at times.